Red Sox trade Victorino to Angels for infielder Josh Rutledge


BOSTON -- In the first of what could be several veteran selloffs, the Red Sox on Monday shipped outfielder Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Red Sox, who will include money to help defray some of the remaining $4.5 million or so remaining on Victorino's 2015 salary, received infielder Josh Rutledge in exchange.

The deal "kind of came together over the weekend,'' said general manager Ben Cherington in a conference call. "We talked to Shane this afternoon during batting practice. It was tough for everyone. He's meant a lot, stating the obvious, to the team and was part of a very special 2013 team and a lot of great moments that October.''

Victorino was limited the last two seasons by injuries. A year ago, he played in just 30 games last year before undergoing season-ending back surgery.

This year, he took part in just 33 of the first 98 games, sidelined by hamstring and calf pulls, each requiring a stint on the disabled list.

"He's always played with incredible passion and he's a passionate person and cares a lot,'' said Cherington. "So it was a difficult conversation. On one hand, he's happy to go to a contender and have a chance to play meaningful games down the stretch. On the other hand, we know this was an important part of his career for him being in Boston, so we expressed how grateful we were for everything he's done and wished him the best. He leaves a mark on the Red Sox and a lot of people that are still in that clubhouse.''

Victorino signed a three-year, $39 million deal with the Sox after the 2012 season, and given that he played only 62 games in the final two years of the deal, that, in retrospect, looks like a costly deal.

Not to Cherington, however.

"In my opinion, we wouldn't have won the World Series without him in '13,'' said Cherington. "Obviously, the DL time got in the way and got in the way of him making same contributions the last two years, unfortunately. But just what he did in 2013 makes us feel like it was a worthwhile deal. We can dice up  the contract and values and all that. But when I think about it, I think (Victorino) was maybe one of the more passion players I've ever been around and he played with incredible grit. He's a tough, smart play.''

Victorino compiled the second-highest WAR figure on the 2013 championship team with an .801 OPS and contributed in all areas.

"The defense in right field, obviously, was difference-making defense,'' said Cherington. "That had an effect on the pitching staff. It's hard to perfectly quantify that, but I don't think there's any question he did. He contributed offensively and on the bases and aside from that, his energy and passion...I just think he was a key constant for us all year. And, of course, there were some big moments in the post-season.

Immediately after the trade was announced, the Red Sox promoted Rusney Castillo to the parent club and had him in right field, replacing Victorino.

The chance to get a longer look and evaluate Castillo over the final two months was, in Cherington's words, "one consideration, certainly'' for the deal in the first place.

Castillo has been up and down with the major league club several times before Monday, but hasn't had much of an impact.

"We just want to see him continue to get comfortable and acclimate to the big league level,'' said Cherington. "This is a guy who we believe in. Hopefully  there's an opportunity to get a good chunk of playing time through the end of the season.''

The trade opens a hole in right and should give Castillo increased playing time.

"I think what we see is a guy who has great bat speed strength but is still adjusting to the major league style of pitching in terms of what pitchers are trying to do and learning how to use his style in a way that works at the major league level," Cherington said of Castillo. "We've seen flashes of good stuff. He's still a guy making adjustments. We think he has a chance to be an aggressive-style hitter, along with what we think, in time, will be good defense and base running and sort of an all-around player.''

Rutledge, 26, was playing for the Angels' Triple A affiliate in Salt Lake City, where he was hitting .274 with five homers and 32 RBI. He had played shortstop, second and third there.

Over the three previous seasons, Rutledge appeared in 266 games with Colorado, hitting .259 with 19 homers and 89 RBI. He was traded from Colorado to Anaheim over the winter and competed for the starting second base job with the Angels this past spring.

"We have had some interest in him back to his Colorado days,'' said Cherington. "He got to the big leagues really quickly with Colorado, and then fell behind some of the other infielders. He's an offensive infielder with some defensive versatility around the infield. We're going to get a look at him.

"He can play second base, shortstop and third base. With (Dustin) Pedroia out there should be some playing time in the infield with us.'' 

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